Levi Stubbs’ Tiers: FIRST BASE

First base is tricky this season. It also is very dependent on your league settings. Braves’ Austin Riley is 1B-eligible on Yahoo and ESPN, but only 3B-eligible on CBS. As such, players only appear on the tier of their primary position.

Vladimir Guerrero Jr.6792151651411061123.308.411

Unless you are attaching a huge premium to the three or four extra stolen bases you might get from a different first baseman, then Guerrero Jr. is easily the first off the board. His floor is high. Lock in elite counting stats in round one.

Pete Alonso3363815164841921082.260.369
Matt Olson2761514964539901023.259.372
Freddie Freeman1368415266930101966.294.385
Paul Goldschmidt306201506673097887.276.361

Freeman is almost the complete player. The uncertainty as to where he calls home in 2022 pushes him down into this tier. Alonso and Olson will both probably hit more home runs, but their (relative) lack of plate discipline suggests extended slumps are possible. Although he is probably the fourth of the bunch, Goldschmidt offers a level of stable but elite production that is not available below this tier.

Jose Abreu475591496493186981.263.346
Rhys Hoskins855091335893387844.239.363
Josh Bell775351476163083931.263.357
Joey Votto934991436122983852.253.356
Nelson Cruz1105191325663176872.263.349
Brandon Belt1464351245162673704.249.358

There is very little to choose between the four-star and three-star tiers. Abreu and Cruz are the nation’s favorites to flop this year, but they are second and third in RBI production since 2014 (Nolan Arenado is top). And if RBI is one of your categories, you have to be very confident of a cliff-edge in their performance to ignore them in the draft.

The trio of Votto, Bell and Hoskins offer 30-HR potential with a high floor, thanks to their plate discipline, but it is Belt who is my pick in this tier. Over the last two seasons combined, the 33-year-old is THIRD in MLB with .413 wOBA (min 500pa).

Ryan Mountcastle665551476183279895.263.340
Jared Walsh725381466063180932.261.348
Max Muncy924891265333080822.251.372
C.J. Cron785061355482974861.269.364

These five were narrowly bumped down to the three-star tier. Mountcastle, the darling of early fantasy baseball drafts, will take a hit from the new dimensions at Camden Yards. Walsh can’t hit lefties. Muncy is out injured. Cron mashes at Coors but is a below-average hitter (99 wRC+) away from Colorado.

Bobby Dalbec1414371405363070793.236.337
Trey Mancini1124741466342580801.260.337
Nathaniel Lowe1564511456072176745.259.340
Jonathan Schoop1224551406052374762.264.323
Luke Voit1704211255132669731.249.347
Yuli Gurriel1204351365791671712.278.331
Frank Schwindel1494401325632370732.263.324
Anthony Rizzo1084831395962479776.256.347

Dalbec could lead the league in homers or lose his job after six weeks. Mancini is a class act and could easily be a value pick coming off an understandably spotty 2021, but like Mountcastle, he could suffer from new dimensions in Camden Yards. I like Rizzo, but he has become a bit “meh” and offers the same stable albeit uninspiring production as Schoop and Gurriel.

I don’t know what to make of Nathaniel Lowe (Nate to his mates), so given my lack of clarity, he is in this tier. I will not bet against Frank Schwindel being the real deal as his .420 wOBA in the second half of the season was spectacular. However, it is too difficult to overlook the fact that his xwOBA is 70 points lower than his wOBA.

Voit’s 2022 outcomes are volatile. One scenario sees him lead the majors in homers while playing first base in New York. Another is an injury-plagued campaign after being traded away as a bench bat.

Ty France8045014560720747510.2710.340
Eric Hosmer21641513755817646950.2650.322
Jesus Aguilar17538612249622607100.2590.339
Alex Kirilloff10539911948918596540.2690.332
Bobby Bradley22529311145123546310.2130.310
Yoshi Tsutsugo20630312349119595810.2300.322
Carlos Santana25529311649616595710.2340.325
Rowdy Tellez19432710941619516010.2530.335
Darin Ruf2502249130612393920.2490.342

Darin Ruf is easily my choice here. Although he is frequently platooned, Ruf posted .362 wOBA against RHP and .404 wOBA against LHP. The imminent arrival of the NL DH could open up more playing time for him. I appear to be in the minority with this view.

Yandy Diaz21934911950013625720.2720.342
Miguel Cabrera26830311950015526000.2530.307
Christian Walker23430010944715535610.2490.322
Ji-Man Choi29826610843515535210.2340.331
Brad Miller2972599735416454630.2350.331
Mitch Moreland3672358833715404610.2340.317
Matt Vierling32425710234610393970.2580.313
Lewin Diaz3111867126412313610.2360.311
Nicholas Pratto2811826023110293040.2350.326
Seth Beer302176752509303110.2540.331


ADP is based on the average draft position of hitters only, so Ty France (ADP 80) is the 80th hitter off of the board according to FantasyPros.

PROJECTIONS are based on the consensus of ATC, Steamer, and BAT.

PTS is based on a calculation using the consensus projections and the points system of NFBC Cutline that closely replicates 5×5 roto.

Featured image photo by John Fisher